The Universe Was Not Created From Nothing but From Previously Existing Matter|
Posted by Abu.Iyaad on Saturday, November, 02 2013 and
filed under Articles
In the course of refuting one of the doubts of Ibn Rushd (Averroes), Ibn Taymiyyah says in Bayaan Talbis al-Jahmiyyah 2/459-461):
I say: Not one of the predecessors of this nation and nor any of its leading scholars said that these heavens and the earth were created and brought about without any created entity preceding them. And this, even though it is presumed by a faction of the people of kalaam or they deduce evidence for it, then it is a futile saying... and likewise not one of the predecessors of this nation or its leading scholars said that the heavens and the earth were not created from (prior) matter. Rather, that which is mutawaatir (reported through widescale transmission) is that they were created from prior matter and in a time period... and what is mentioned by many of the Ahl al-Kalaam (Hellenized Theologians), the Jahmites and their likes, regarding the beginning (of creation) [that it was created from "nothing"] is equivalent to what they say regarding the end, in that the bodies (matter) of the universe will perish (completely) [and become "nothing"]... And this (view) that the Mutakallimoon (speculative theologians) innovated is futile by unanimous agreement of the predecessors of the Ummah and its leading Imaams.
Whilst stating that the Book and the Sunnah affirm the universe was created from prior matter, Ibn Taymiyyah also rejects, at the same time, Ibn Rushd's claim of eternal matter, he says (2/462):
And likewise, the mention therein of matter for the creation of the heavens and the earth, does not necessitate that that matter was eternal, this is alongside what is in the Qur'an that, "He is the creator of every single thing" (39:62) and "The Lord (Creator) of every single thing" (6:164), and the word "khalq" (creation) negates what they mention of the universe being necessary alongside His existence like the necessity of an attribute (existing) alongside the one described (with it).
And he says a little later (2/473):
And as for the saying of the Atheists that the heavens do not cease to be upon (the state) they are upon now, and will never cease as such, this is clear rejection and plain disbelief in what is in the Qur'an, in what the people of faith have united upon, and in what they know by necessity that the Messengers informed of (this matter of the creation of the heavens). Likewise the saying of the Jahmites or whoever says amongst them, "The heavens and the Earth were created without matter and without time and that they will perish or be annihilated," or that "Paradise will also expire." All of that is in opposition to the texts of the Qur'an, and it is for this reason that the predecessors made takfeer (excommunication) of those (Jahmites), even if the disbelief of the first ones (the Atheists) is more plain and clear... And the intent here is the notification of the corruption of the proofs of the Atheists, deniers of the Creator, the Exalted, their contradiction, and the Jahmites sharing with them in some of their corrupt foundations...
There is nothing in the revealed texts to indicate the heavens and earth were made from "nothing." Rather, they were made from previously existing matter (without that matter being eternal). This viewpoint stands in contrast to that of numerous factions: a) those who claim the heavens and earth were created from nothing and today these people find support from the big bang hypothesis, b) those who claim that the universe is eternal and c) those who claim the universe created itself from nothing. In the Qur'anic text, the heavens were made and formed from "dukhaan" (دخان) which is a nebulous (gaseous) mass that was already in existence prior to the formation of the heavens. As for the verse, "Do not those who disbelieve see that the heavens and Earth were together (رتقا) and we separated them and with water we created every living thing" (21:30), then the exegetes say the meaning is that initially there was no separation between Earth and the heavens (thus no life), meaning there was adjacency between them, and they were subsequently separated (via an atmosphere) as a result of which rain could fall and herbage could grow (which were previously not possible). A second complimentary meaning is also provided in that the Earth was a single connected mass that was made into layers and the heavens were a single connected mass that was made into layers (and thereafter an atmosphere was created to separate the Earth's surface from the heavens to enable the fall of life-giving rain upon the Earth). Refer to al-Tabari, Ibn Katheer and al-Baghawi. However, the contemporaries have taken the word (رتقا) to mean a single combined mass, using it to make the verse be in line with the "singularity" in the big bang hypothesis and some of them assert this came from absolutely nothing which clashes with the revealed texts. The big bang hypothesis has become useful for many Muslim apologists who are influenced by the false doctrine of the speculative theologians who consider the demonstration of the universe having a beginning to be the only or the core method for proving a creator (see here). However, the big bang hypothesis itself has serious flaws and new discoveries over the past three decades have put cosmology as a whole into crisis (from their own words).